Pastels on the Plaza time again. My entry above (click for actual size), for the lovely and talented Genevieve Schmidt, a local landscape designer and garden writer. See her work in this month’s Fine Gardening Magazine pages 42-47, as well as this month’s issue of Pacific Horticulture.
We arrived at the Arcata plaza at seven in the morning with a fist full of sidewalk chalk, art ideas in the other hand, and a bag full of new tricks to try out. The weather was ominous. I’d heard rumors flying for a few days about the big storm coming in and estimates for when it would hit.
The weather was great though. It was overcast and warm, though I imagine it will all be washed away in a muddy rainbow in a day or two. Keep in mind that these vary a lot in size, most being either three by three feet or three by six, but I’ve mostly cropped them to the same width, so if the rectangular ones look more detailed, it’s because they are shrunk twice as much. It took me about five hours. These entries are all done by local artists and paid for by donations from local businesses for a local children’s charity. Let’s take a look at this year’s event:
That pastel for Moonstone Grill in the front with the fun shape was done by local author Joan Dunning. I should really take more of these shots, but things are usually so crowded. If you look at the upper left of the image you can see a rare Tibetan Mastiff. I love the red reinterpretation of Starry Night as well.
Above we have the entry by Leah Vaughn for Holly Yashi Jewelry. And below, her husband, graphic designer Casey Vaughn for Tomas jewelry.
This was the first year for Susan Fridley, the artist of the below entry for A to Z Eye Care. Pretty good for a first try!
This one by Primal Decor Body Art Studio is a contender for best of show in my opinion.
I wish I had gotten to watch Renaissance Painting Company work. I’d be interested to see their process.
Duane Flatmo was there of course. It just wouldn’t be the same without him. When I mentioned to him that I had seen his SteamPunk octopus from Burning Man on The Huffington Post, he hunted down a flyer for me, which I’ve put a scan of below his entry below.
The Humboldt Area Foundation had real leaves mixed in with the pastel.
B&B Porta Potties clearly has a healthy sense of humor with their flowers below.
I’ve worked in the rain before. I’ve worked in the wind. I’ve worked in the sun. Each has its own challenges. For anyone out there who may be attempting this kind of thing for the first time, I’ll pass on a few of the things I’ve learned.
You can work wet, or you can work dry, but you really need to decide at the beginning, Trying to spray water on pastel after it is on the ground just kicks up chalk and then beads up and sits. Working wet will get you richer colors, smoother blending, and an almost total inability to deal with mistakes. Once the wet chalk goes somewhere, trying to remove it or alter it just makes mud. Working dry lets you change everything as you go, and gets you finer detail, but builds up dust and sometimes doesn’t adhere well. Below is this year’s entry by Alan Sanborn, a talented watercolor artist. He works wet and with brushes.
Paintbrushes are great if you are working wet and those foam ones work better than expected. If you are working dry, it just flings everything about like a broom. This year I was working dry, and I brought an old towel and cut it up into pieces. It worked much better than a brush for blending crumbs into the sidewalk and mixing colors. We also brought a Dust Buster for when we had chalk buildup and didn’t want to blow it on the neighbors. I highly recommend it.
I prefer to work dry, but sometimes the weather doesn’t make it an option. I work wet when it’s raining or windy. Morning or evening sun casts a lot of shadows, which add to the difficulty of keeping track of perspective while sitting on your work. I end up sitting on wet grass most of the morning, but this is easily solved by getting a good bath mat to sit on with a solid rubber backing. If it’s thick enough, it is also a good alternative to knee-pads when kneeling on cement.
I leave you with a few more honorable mentions:
Looking around for press coverage I came across this youtube video posted by radmul:
And an image from someone flying over: